Ofsted Watch: First inspection since merger produces ‘good’ result

A college inspected for the first time since a merger was rated ‘good’ in a week that saw local authority provision struggle.

Bath College, which was formed in April 2015 from a merger of City of Bath College and Norton Radstock College, was found to be grade two across the board.

The report commended teaching, student behaviour and high quality facilities at the college, as well as the “excellent support” given to disadvantaged and vulnerable learners and those with additional needs at an Ofsted inspection on January 16.

Inspectors found that a high proportion of learners move on to employment or higher levels of education or training, and noted that staff have built strong relationships with partners, stakeholders and local employers.

Sunderland City Council was, however, handed an ‘inadequate’ rating, which raised concerns about radicalisation, “deterioration” in the achievement of apprentices and poor subcontracted apprenticeship delivery.

The council, which had been rated ‘good’ back in 2014 and trains just over 3,000 learners, said it was “disappointed” about the findings of the report.

It was also not a ‘good’ week for Slough Borough Council, which received its second ‘requires improvement’ rating for its community learning and skills provision after an inspection on January 16.

Ofsted said the local authority, which was last inspected in June 2016, had made improvements but warned that too much of the teaching is not planned carefully enough and “fails to motivate learners”.

However, Slough did receive grade two ratings for its apprenticeship provision and for the personal development, behaviour and welfare of adult learners, and was commended for its work to “improve the lives of hard-to-reach and vulnerable adults”.

The report added there were “comprehensive plans in place to secure further improvements.”

A further four providers managed to improve on their previous inspections and another four kept their grade two ratings in short inspections.

Gateway Sixth Form College in Leicester had been rated ‘inadequate’ in November 2016, but was deemed grade three across the board this time round.

Inspectors said the majority of students were now making good progress, after disappointing results last year, and that leadership and governance had been strengthened at the college.

However, it raised concerns that teachers were not providing appropriate feedback or setting challenging enough work.

Lancashire’s Accrington and Rossendale College moved up from grade three to grade two, and its leaders were commended for rectifying “the vast majority of weaknesses identified at the previous inspection”.

Ofsted said senior leaders had been “unremitting” in working to improve provision, leading to better achievement rates, good links with employers, community groups and voluntary organisations and “highly motivated” learners.

The report said most learners progress to further study, higher education or employment, but warned that apprenticeship provision still ‘requires improvement’.

Also moving up from ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’ were two adult and community learning providers: The Greenback Project in Liverpool and Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council in the West Midlands.

The Greenback Project, which provides education and training to disabled people and other disadvantaged groups through Greenback College, was praised for its improved teaching, with tutors using “a variety of stimulating, creative and interesting activities” to “enthuse and motivate students”.

Students were said to be well behaved with improving grades and supported to learn independently, although inspectors warned that feedback was “encouraging and motivational but it is not sufficiently developmental”.

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council was also commended for providing “good education opportunities for the most disadvantaged learners” at its inspection on January 16.

Staff were said to place the welfare of learners “at the heart of their work” while learners worked well together and were developing confidence, personal and social skills.

The report said the “large majority” of learners achieve their aims on community learning, employability and functional skills courses.

Keeping their grade two rating after short inspections are East Durham College, The Child Care Company (Old Windsor) in Slough, S&B Automotive Academy in Bristol and Hounslow Adult and Community Education in west London.


GFE CollegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Bath College16/01/201821/02/20182N/A
Accrington and Rossendale College16/01/201819/02/201823


Sixth Form CollegesInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
Gateway Sixth Form College16/01/201821/02/201834


Adult and Community LearningInspectedPublishedGradePrevious grade
The Greenback Project16/01/201823/01/201823
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council 16/01/201821/02/201823
Sunderland City Metropolitan Borough Council16/01/201819/02/201842
Slough Borough Council 16/01/201819/02/201833


Short inspections (remains grade 2)InspectedPublished
East Durham College 11/01/1821/02/18
The Child Care Company (Old Windsor) Ltd24/01/1822/02/18
S&B Automotive Academy Ltd23/01/1821/02/18
Hounslow Adult and Community Education17/01/1821/02/18

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